Broadway bodies : a critical history of conformity /

Publication Type:



Oxford University Press,, New York, NY, United States, p.xii, 316 pages : (2023)

Call Number:



(OCoLC)fst01030814, (OCoLC)fst01030816, (OCoLC)fst01062818, 20th century, 21st century, Auditions., Casting., fast, History and criticism., Musicals, Musicals., New York (State), Physical-appearance-based bias., Political aspects.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [247]-302) and index.Part I : Broadway bodies. Introduction : the Broadway body ; "I saw what they were hiring" : casting and recasting A chorus line -- Part II : Size. Dreamgirls, size, and the body politics of padding ; "Must be heavyset" : casting fat women in Broadway musicals -- Part III : Sexuality. La Cage aux folles and playing gay ; "Keeping it gay" on the great white way -- Part IV : Ability. Deaf West's awakening of Broadway ; Musicals, physical difference, and disability ; Epilogue : recasting Broadway."The Broadway Body: I lied about my height on my résumé the entire time I was a dancer, though in truth I don't think the extra inch ever actually made a difference. In the US, 5'6" still reads as short for a man no matter how you slice it. The reason for my deception was that height was often the reason I was disqualified: choreographers often wanted taller male dancers for the ensemble and listed a minimum height requirement (often 5'11" and up) in the casting breakdown. Being disqualified before I could even set foot in the audition because I possessed an unchangeable physical characteristic that often made me unemployable in the industry. I was learning an object lesson in Broadway's body politics-and, of course, had I not been a white cisgender nondisabled man, the barriers to employment would have been compounded even further. I wasn't alone in feeling caught in a catch-22. Not being cast because of your appearance, or "type" in industry lingo, is casting's status quo. The casting process openly discriminates based upon appearance. This truism even made its way into a song cut from A Chorus Line (1975) called "Broadway Boogie Woogie," which comically lists all of the reasons one might not be cast: "I'm much too tall, much too short, much too thin/Much too fat, much too young for the role/I sing too high, sing too low, sing too loud." Funny Girl (1964) put it even more bluntly: "If a Girl Isn't Pretty/Like a Miss Atlantic City/She should dump the stage/And try another route."--Ryan Donovan is Assistant Professor of Theater Studies at Duke University. He is author of Queer Approaches in Musical Theatre and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Musical Theatre.